I hate to fuel this self loathing during this, the happiest time of the year. But it is sad to see all the teams that have passed us up. It's also sad to think about how our goal as a program has slipped from ncaa championship to simply making the field of 68.
They were amazing. One of the stats that really sums them up for me is, during the ncaa tournament, 5 different players led the team in scoring. They were so balanced and nearly impossible to stop. It's a shame they didnt win it because history tends to forget teams that came in second place and they dont deserve to be forgotten.
It's not a matter of being comfortable with it, it's a matter of reality. If you think that this teams NEEDS to have a ten game turnaround or next year will be a failure...I've got bad news for you.
Yes, we will have more experience and yes we should have more size. All good things. However, if you're watching this tournament you'll notice that the conference is probably going to go 5-0 on day one. It's the deepest conference in the country.
This season was over for us, in regards to the tournament, before the 1st of the year. If we can flip the script and at least be in the conversation come the first day of March, I'll take it. That would be an incredible two year turnaround.
What we WANT is an NCAA tournament bid. What we NEED is consistent recruiting and program stability (no more mass transfers), which will ultimately get us where we need to be.
I'm not quite sure that you understand the trainwreck that Underwood inherited. I don't think he understood the depths of issues he was walking into.
Short of signing two one and done McDonald's All Americans....this will continue to be a process and not a quick fix.
What in your mind is a quick fix, I believe 3 years is plenty of time to establish a tournament team. There are so many teams that make the tournament now, yes big ten is 1 or 2 best conference in the country. But that should be an advantage finish top 8 and your more than likely getting in. I know what kind of train wreck but guess what there have been programs that have struggled and have made right hires and with in first 3 years was back in the tournament. This program should never settle with an NIT bid, I've said it jokingly but it's tourney time next year. It can be done and I believe it will. IMO.
I'm guessing you're in the same age group I am with the 99 at the end if your moniker. This program is not seen in the same light as we came through seeing it. I graduated in 1999, so I grew up with Illinois basketball being truly elite. We had the probation BS, but outside of that....it wasn't a matter of if we make the tournament, rather what our seed was.
It has been 14 years since that National Championship game run. Hard to believe, but true. If you're a senior in HS being recruited, you were three years old during that magical time and not even born for the Henson, Kruger and Self runs. Heck, most people only know Bill Self as the Hall of Fame coach of Kansas.
The fact is, our brand stinks right now. Let's not sugar coat it. We've been to the tournament what, one time in this decade?
It's not a matter of this just being a team rebuild. It's a full program rebuild and a brand facelift. We view ourselves as a top 12 basketball program. We lived through the 2.5 decades when we were elite....on CBS, on the ESPN primetime games, etc...it was a great brand. That's gone.
Underwood's biggest job is to re-establish that for the long term, especially in Chicago. It's great to get the out of state kids, but we can't be losing in-state kids to the likes of Iowa State. We shouldn't be off the radar of Max Christie, a top 15 national recruit and the consensus #1 in the state for 2021. We are. That didn't use to be the case. Adam Miller, growing up in Peoria, would have been a LOCK. Not the case now.
How do we get back to that? To that time where we were able to scoff at the NIT.
To me, a huge chip to fall will be Ayo being a lottery pick. That's what gets kids attention now. Kids want to go to the NBA and to the NCAA tournament. We need to break the drought on both.
We are seeing how tough the big ten was this year. This team needed a soft
Preconference schedule and we sure did not have that. Last half of the conference season we were playing like a bubble team.
We just have no margin for error now. All has to go right for us to beat a good team. Look at Purdue’s box score. Nobody shot well and they easily won. First step on our way back is to reclaim the home court advantage. We
Made some progress on that but penn st would have meant a lot.
I would like to see Trent and ayo channel their inner kiwane garris. Fearless point guard in the timber. I’ve seen enough of the dipsy do finger rolls. And enough of losing games by not shooting free throws. And enough scoring droughts that could be broken at the line.